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The Fling Festival

The UK’s Exclusively Adults-Only Outdoor Festival

The Fling Festival – Film by L M Mallord

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”


Only Big Kids Permitted

This unique adults-only festival took place in a village of tents in a beautiful green park and starred a fabulous cast of curious performance talent.

Often described as a ’boutique’ festival,The Fling wasn’t just about the musical entertainment as it incorporated much more with plenty of random sideshows, art installations, burlesque workshops, market areas, have-a-go craft activities, fire shows, yoga and massage, a sandy beach, a casino, a debating forum, a silent disco…

I wanted to create an appealing atmosphere without relying on headline acts. That would create a trap for us in future years when audiences just wait to hear what bands are playing. I prefered for audiences to feel they could trust our judgement and come to the festival whatever the line-up on the music stage.

“You’re one of the few people I know who I would truly call a visionary. Your ability to come up with ideas that simply no-one else had ever thought of always impressed me.”

Nick Wheatley, Theatre Manager

The aim was also to seduce and surprise people’s senses with multiple performance stages dedicated to cabaret, live music, dance, films, spoken word, DJs, comedy, theatre, storytelling… and the best food and drink outlets we could source.

Excluding children was counter-intuitive, especially as many mainstream festivals now rely on teenagers to buy tickets. However, I felt that many older adults didn’t enjoy festivals because they were dominated by teenagers. I wanted a festival that encouraged adults to rediscover their inner-child in an environment that had none. Surrounded by playful performances, and creative make-and-do activities, this seemed to create an atmosphere where adults could be free to be children again.

“The Fling Festival has been the most important cultural happening to take place locally for a generation. Not only does it provide a much needed platform for artists and talent from all backgrounds to gain experience but, it also opened up a new world of alternative entertainment.”

Marc Miller, Culture Manager

Multiple generations came together at the festival in a way that they would not ordinarily do so. Pensioners played with folk in their thirties and twenty-somethings enjoyed the company of the middle-aged. We made the festival’s age exclusivity a positive feature of it’s marketing campaign, especially as people wanted to know why it was adults-only.

The Fling was also a catalyst to support local entrepreneurs and actively encouraged a flourishing local creative economy. The festival developed talent both on stage and behind it as folk used the event to showcase and refine the work of students and creative professionals from the local area.

Disability groups were actively involved in the organisation of some of the festival. Seeing The Fling as an effective promotional vehicle, businesses sponsored the event and in addition to a return on their investment, their staff benefitted from VIP treatment on site.

“You have always been such a huge support. Your organisational skills are superb as organising a festival, let alone two at the same time needs a steady hand.”

Susan Pattrick, Disability Specialist, Dancing Giraffe

The Fling Festival was immediately preceded by another event I devised and delivered – The 3foot People Festival, which took place (unusually for a festival) on the week days just before. One of the challenges was sharing infrastructure for two quite distinct festivals and also content wherever possible. This meant working closely with many artists and performers to develop their work to suit new audiences. See the link at the bottom of this page for more details of The 3foot People Festival.

“Went for the first time last year and it was SO much fun! Great people, great music, great food and so much to do!”

Audience member

Fling Festival Awards

The Fling Festival was shortlisted for Cultural Event of the Year at the Event Production Awards in 2016.

It was also nominated for a Golden Welly Award for Best Independent Festival at the AIM Independent Music Awards.

“The UK’s festival scene is the most exciting in the World, and the independent festivals up for nomination this year are a great example of that.”

Lara Baker, AIM Independent Music Awards

The Fling Festival was also awarded a top star green award from Julie’s Bicycle. Founded by the music industry in 2007 and now working across the arts and culture, Julie’s Bicycle is a pioneering not-for-profit organisation that’s mobilising the arts industry to take action on the climate and ecological crisis.

For the festival, we worked with local suppliers, producers and caterers wherever possible and we demanded ‘environmental bonds’ from them to encourage respect for the environment and to ensure rules were met. Recycling facilities were also present on site and there was relatively low contamination due to clear signage and good pre-event messaging.  Regular and efficient public transport was laid on and we had a dedicated car-sharing website for The Fling Festival.

“I love this event. Such a brilliantly entertaining mixed bag of delights. Always a great atmosphere and some craziness to watch or get involved with.

Audience member
The Silent Disco at The Fling Festival
A Bit on Side was a promotional music event for The Fling Festival
The introduction of The Fling Festival: After Hours, for a limited number of Saturday ticket holders (those camping), allowed the party to continue later into the night with live acoustic music, storytelling, projections and silent disco once the main festival had closed. This also tied in with a small number of Sunday morning activities, such as yoga, etc for After Hours participants.
Last Band Standing was a band competition that took place across several local music venues that raised awareness of The Fling Festival and gave emerging talent the opportunity to play on the festival’s main stage.
A close-up of the ‘Save the Date’ notice that was posted out via snail mail
Site decor enhanced the already attractive festival sites
There were multiple music stages to limit the reliance on ‘headline’ acts like so many festivals do
The 20 tons of sand from the preceding children’s event was just as popular for adults at The Fling
The Cabaret Tent was a main stage as it offered playful, professional acts from a diverse world of talent – from music, circus, spoken word, burlesque, and so much more
The Cuban Bros played at The Fling Festival
A spoken word performance area – here you can see the use of multiple small tents creates a different atmosphere to fewer large tents on a festival site
Mr Nice, Howard Marks at the Wordsmith’s Dome. I was keen to use all kinds of shape and size festival venue to create a ‘village’ atmosphere
We had an enthusiastic and…
…devoted adults-only audience.
A Grand Theatre of Lemmings walkabout was one of the many professional street theatre acts employed over the years
Picnicking time at The Fling Festival. There were multiple food and drink outlets on site but we also had no problen with people bringing their own food
The Tiki Love Truck (designed by my brother, Thayen Rich) at the sand pit – with real palm trees! It was a popular spot to play, eat and sunbathe.
The Fling Festival – Film by L M Mallord
There were all kinds of have-a-go workshops for the adult-only audience – this is one of the Fairyland Trust spaces led by Tess Bickerstaff
The Middle-Aged Spread Tent in one of the many Indian wedding marquees dotted around the site
The late author Sebastian Horsley made an appearance
The Fling Casino raised money for charity
Different kinds of dance workshops proved popular – this was teaching burlesque
Once night fell, the fire came out – with Joanna Peacock here
The fun fair provided a great aerial view of some of the festival site
Walk the Plank presented a gentle fire garden at an early Fling Festival
The firey Elementree sculpture by Dan Peppiatt


The Fling Festival 2nd year – film by Arklight Media
The Fling was a created as a festival of ‘assorted amusements’ aimed specifically at adults – this film by Mark Brodzinski features the Horseworld attraction by Joanna Peacock